There are so many podcasts about nearly any topic you can think of, so it is worth noting when one stands out among the crowd. So far, some of this year's podcasts have not disappointed, with old favorites and many new shows creating a buzz. While you wait for new podcasts to come out in the fall, here are a few binge-worthy picks from this summer that you might have missed.
Deadline's Strike Talk
If you're curious about the behind-the-scenes action of the ongoing Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild strikes, then Deadline's Strike Talk "is a trusted resource for listeners within the industry and beyond." Emma Carey said in Esquire. The podcast is hosted by Academy Award-nominated writer, director, and showrunner Billy Ray and former studio executive Todd Garner. The series covers everything from the looming threat of artificial intelligence to developments from the picket lines. The show kicked off in early May and still covers the latest news from the strikes. Ray and Garner's coverage "stands as an important documentation of this moment in Hollywood history," Carey opined. Listen on Apple Podcasts.
Slow Burn Season Eight: Becoming Justice Thomas
Slate's Slow Burn already has a reputation for delivering peak podcast entertainment, shedding new light on some of the most infamous American controversies, including Watergate and the Tupac vs. Biggie beef. In season 8, host Joel Anderson turns the spotlight on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, tracing his "surprising path from youthful radical to conservative icon," per Slate. The show includes interviews with people who describe how he evolved into one of the most influential people in American politics, including former mentors and ex-girlfriends. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
A new true crime podcast from Serial and The New York Times, The Retrievals is a five-part narrative series about a horrifying incident at the Yale Fertility Center, where a nurse was replacing patient fentanyl doses with saline to feed her addiction. The show tells the stories of nearly two dozen women who underwent painful egg retrieval procedures and were often dismissed when they reported discomfort. In the Series finale, host Susan Burton "manages to succeed where many other seasons of Serial have failed," Lizzie O'Leary wrote for Slate. In place of "hand-wavy meditation on the nature of a crime, or a place, or on humanity," O'Leary added, Burton offered a conclusion: "Women's pain is not treated equally because women are not treated equally." The series ended in August, but the case at the center of the podcast is still ongoing. Listen on The New York Times, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
The premise behind PJ Vogt's new podcast Search Engine is "so simple and familiar that it's almost generic," Vulture podcast critic Nicholas Quah wrote. Still, "the result can still feel very much different — and fresh — all the same." The weekly show is the co-creator of Reply All's return to full-time podcasting. In each episode, Vogt and his team attempt to answer questions that "run the gamut," but Quah noted that all have one thing in common: "being damn good questions." From wondering if we should drink airport coffee to why we can't turn empty office space into housing, the questions span several themes from the evergreen to the timely. Fans of Reply All can expect the "energetic profundity" they loved to carry onto this new show. "In theory, this is a show that can last for decades," Quah added. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Murder on Sex Island
A "combination audiobook-podcast," Murder on Sex Island is a thrilling murder-mystery novel written by Jo Firestone, a comedian and host of Dr. Gameshow, Quah said in Vulture. The book is set to be published in October, but Firestone has been distributing the story in a read-aloud weekly post. The story follows a former social worker turned private investigator contracted by a reality show called Sex Island to find out who killed one of the cast members. To keep a low profile, she has to appear on the show as part of the cast as she investigates the crime. Murder on Sex Island is "hilarious in a "so smart at being dumb that it's brilliant" kind of way" and a "bloodstained love letter to reality-dating television I've wanted for years," Quah opined. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.